Welcome to Gospel Tangents Podcast. I’m excited to announce this is our 100th episode here at Gospel Tangents. Of course I’ve been around for them all, I’m not sure if you have, but I hope you have. It’s been a fun ride so far.
It’s in power vacuum #4 that the Policy emerges. Now that doesn’t tell you the details of how these things happened, but it tells you the climate in which they did happen. In each case, it was a power vacuum created by the incapacitation of this living president.
Dr. Greg Prince will talk more about this, and I’ll ask if there are similarities between the 1969 policy on blacks. Is that similar to the policy with gays?
Greg: All of that occurred in a period where there was a period of power vacuum. President McKay, even though he was lucid enough to talk to his son and verify the contents of that letter physically didn’t have capacity to referee this match or to stop it. It was carried on mostly in private so the general church membership didn’t know about it, but it was a real crisis. So that was power vacuum #1.
Find out more about the other power vacuums, as well as Greg’s research into aging leadership. Check out our conversation…..
The November 2015 Policy is called by some the POX, or Policy of Exclusion. The policy excludes children of gay Mormons from being blessed, baptized, or ordained in the LDS Church. Greg Prince came to Utah back in September to discuss the science of being gay, and we talked about that in our last episode. In our next conversation we’ll ask about theological justifications of the ban. What does Greg Prince think about this policy?
Greg: I think this policy has done a lot of damage, and that’s not just a supposition. You can put real numbers behind that. I don’t like to be in the position of explaining to the president of the seminary why my church is whacking infants. But I didn’t explain that. I said, “David, I don’t understand this anymore than you do.” Because there is nothing in LDS theology that I know of that justifies whacking infants; they are pure and sin-free. We are punishing them with this policy.
We’ll also ask about the common questions: will the LDS Church be forced to marry gay members in the LDS Temples? What does Greg Prince think about that?
Greg: I’m telling you it’s an empty justification. It’s scare talk. It has no basis in reality…. it’s a bankrupt argument.
We’ll talk a little bit about the history of marriage in the LDS Church for heterosexual couples, and I think Greg has an interesting point right at the outset that you may find interesting.
Greg: Up until 1960s within the United States you could have a civil wedding ceremony and go to the temple the next day to be sealed.
GT: Until the ‘60s.
Greg: Yeah, late ‘60s.
Why did that change? Check out our conversation….. and tells us your thoughts about this interview!
Greg Prince came to Utah in September 2017 to give the Sterling McMurrin Lecture at the Salt Lake Library. I was able to chat with him just prior to his lecture. With November being the anniversary of the November Policy, I wanted to bump up this conversation to discuss Greg’s views on homosexuality and the LDS Church. He notes that there is both good and bad moves by the LDS Church toward gays.
Greg: In  the [Utah] Legislature with a big public push from the church (otherwise it couldn’t have happened), passed Senate Bill 296 which forbade by law discrimination against LGBT people in the areas employment and housing. That was a big step forward because Utah still is the only state whose legislature and gubernatorial chair are occupied by Republicans that has passed that kind of legislation.
GT: Oh really?
Greg: Yeah, but then later that year, the Church came out with “the Policy” and so it was another low point. We just seem to be in this cycle of a step forward and a step back, and the LGBT population in particular, since they are the ones who are most affected by these things is wondering, are we really moving forward, or are we just kind of being batted back and forth?
GT: What do you think the answer is to that?
Greg: I don’t know yet.
GT: I know that November Policy was hard for a lot of people. Why do you think that the policy came out in the first place?
Greg: Oh I know why it came out because I talked to a couple of the Brethren who very clearly said it was a response to the Supreme Court decision in June of that year. In March of that year you had SB 296. That was a high water mark. That was good news.
Do you agree with Greg’s point that the church has both good and bad moves towards gay members?
He has some views that may surprise you.
Greg: Within two weeks of the announcement of the policy, I was invited by lunch with the president of Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C. It’s the largest Methodist seminary in the country. Subsequent to that, as in May of this year, I was elected to membership on the board of governors of Wesley Seminary, so I have a very close relationship with him.
The president who I’ve known for years said, “Am I missing something here? I thought I had a reasonable understanding of LDS theology.” His understanding included having been invited here to meet with the First Presidency, take the tour of BYU. He’s done some homework and he’s fairly knowledgeable about Mormonism and he’s quite sympathetic towards it, but he said, “What it is in your theology that justifies beating up infants?”
I said, “David, there is nothing that justifies that?”
I think it’s the going after the kids, but particularly the infants that has been so distasteful both to church members and to the outsiders. But I think that the damage that was done by Prop 8 was mostly external. It was an explosion.
GT: So when you’re talking about beating up infants, you’re talking about the idea that we won’t bless children of gay parents.
Greg: Yes, the ritual of blessing in the Mormon Church, as with christening in other Christian traditions is the formal acknowledgement by the community of believers that your child exists. Your child has a name, and it’s accepted by the community. We have denied that to same-sex couples, so in essence we are saying, “Your child doesn’t exist.”
In his book, Greg talks about Prop 8, gays at BYU, whether gays can serve missions, gay church leaders, the Policy, and many other topics. (Don’t forget to check out our previous episode where Anne Wilde discussed her opinion on how the Policy affects polygamists.) Check out our conversation…..
 Greg misspoke. He said 1995 but the year was 2015.